Monday, November 30, 2009

Survey says, we are all Habitants (or most of us anyways)

As the Montreal Canadiens prepare to put the wraps to their Centennial year, they can close the year out with the knowledge that after all these years, they still hold a place in the heart of many a Canadien and Canadian hockey fan.

A survey conducted by the Ipsos-Reid polling firm for the Historica-Dominion Institute has found that 33 per cent of Canadians claim allegiance to the Habs, compared to 25 per cent for the Leafs, while Ottawa Senators, Vancouver Canucks, Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers all were well back between 2 and 5 per cent each, 28 per cent of Canadians claimed no allegiance.

1,105 Canadians were surveyed in the poll, providing answers to some other cutting hockey questions of the day.

Included in the results is the discovery that over half of all Canadians believe Montreal is the greatest team in hockey history, comparing them to the Yankees as far as reverence, though unlike the Yankees the Habs don't seem to attract as much anger or angst.

4 in 10 believe that Montreal will see a Stanley Cup parade in the next four or five years (one wonders what the odds for Toronto would be?)Whatever those odds, most Canadians 75 per cent believe that Montreal will win the Cup before Brian Burke's boyo's grab the Holy Grail.

Just so the results don't go to their heads however, more than 50 per cent of the respondents said that they believe the Habs best years are behind them.

The results published in the Globe and Mail, make for an interesting primer prior to this Friday's game, televised across Canada on the CBC which celebrates those hundred years of hockey excellence and passion. Friday nights broadcast will feature coverage of the pre game commemoration of the Centennial, followed by the continuation of one of the great rivalries in Canadiens history a game with the Boston Bruins.

The Historica-Dominion Institute website is dedicated to helping Canadians learn more about the nation and each other, they have a number of sports oriented video clips that focus not only on the Montreal Canadiens, but other key moments in Canadian sport as well.
The item above first appeared on the HockeyNation blog.

It's the economy (November 30, 2009)

Binding arbitration in the future for CN and the engineers , the twelve days of Christmas items are still a bargain, and Germany sees more trouble on the horizon, some of the items of note for Monday.

Globe and Mail-- Ottawa tables CN back-to-work bill
Globe and Mail-- In Dubai, a blunt refusal amid a market selloff
Globe and Mail-- Canada's growth returns as imports surge
National Post-- Loonie the anchor on economy's recovery
National Post-- Ottawa looks for quick fix to CN strike
National Post-- China: Boom or Bubble about to bust?
Vancouver Sun-- Port Metro Vancouver supports CN Rail workers’ back-to-work legislation
New York Times-- The Jobs Imperative
New York Times-- A Takeover Movie for Hollywood to Watch
USA Today-- Shoppers have retailers singing on Cyber Monday
USA Today-- Shopping alert: '12 days of Christmas' items up only 1.8%
Guardian UK online-- Dubai authorities may be forced to put up Emirates airline as debt collateral
Guardian UK online-- The storm in Dubai may not be over
Times Online UK-- Morgan Stanley warns UK risks full-blown debt crisis
Times Online UK-- Chinese to become world's biggest gold consumers
Times Online UK-- China will take a generation to catch up with the West
Telegraph UK online-- Angela Merkel alarmed by worsening credit crisis
Telegraph UK online-- Dubai: don't count on a happy ending
Telegraph UK online-- Can emerging markets stand the test of time?
Melbourne Herald Sun-- Dubai last of big four to confirm it expects no material loss from Dubai shock
Brisbane Times-- Big four banks and regulator braced for defaults on loans
Brisbane Times-- UAE in for more pain over Dubai
Sydney Daily Telegraph-- All eyes on Dubai over debt woes
People's Daily on line-- Chinese Premier: China hopes world's major reserve currency will maintain stable
People's Daily on line-- Time not right for stimulus policy exit: China, EU
China Daily-- Money Chinese banks increase overseas loan activity
The Times of India-- Tata plans Nano hybrid cars
The Times of India-- No Dubai impact on Indian economy: PMEAC

No frills or no jobs?

The latest skirmish in the ever ongoing evolution of the grocery store industry appears to have been joined over at the Rupert Square Shopping Centre, where Extra Foods appears to be the subject of a re-branding plan and with it a change in the dynamic of the collective agreement between management and the employees.

The UFCW Local 1518 website offers up the union side of the debate where union officials have apparently filed a list of their concerns with the Labour Relations Board over the way that Extra Foods management has approached the issue of the store re-branding.

Among their key concerns, what they describe as a number of captive audience meetings in which some members of the store's staff were called into the store office and told the store would close if they did not accept the employer’s concession-laden last offer.

Another item of interest to the union has been the employer’s failure to provide financial information to confirm their statements that the store is incurring losses and is not economically viable. Because Extra Foods has not provided that statement, the UFCW filed a complaint with the LRB.

The latest message on the union website offers up some of the background on the concessions requested by the company, included in them are the redefinition of the wages of employment, where according to the union, the substantial majority of hours worked in a No Frills store would be for wage rates of $9.00 to a maximum $11.90 per hour, with no benefits.

The changeover from Extra Foods to a No Frills would apparently mean that only a small number of employees, if any, would be eligible to earn $15.75 per hour, and with substantially inferior and inadequate benefits, or no benefits at all.

The union website advisory outlines how Loblaws' (the parent company for Extra Foods) again asked the Labour Relations Board (LRB) to conduct a vote on what is called their last offer, which contains the employer’s demand for the concession-laden No Frills contract.

Because of the number of complaints that the UFCW has filed at the LRB, they are asking the labour board to keep the ballot box sealed pending the hearing of their complaints filed with the LRB.

The full review from the union perspective can be found from the UFCW Website here.

The Loblaws/ Westfair Foods website, offers little if any information about the vision statements or corporate definition of the No Frills brand, the most you'll find is a version of their online flyer on pricing.
The website does however feature a number of banners outlining their success as one of Canada's Top 100 Employers, Greater Toronto's Top Employers and as one of the Financial Post's Ten Best Companies to Work For for 2010, the information provided on the website outlining their credentials for such honours, a wide ranging bit of praise which most likely offers up some talking points over at the UFCW

The changing nature of the grocery business seems to be an ongoing matter of pitting management and union against each other with a number of hot button issues. The most recent local example of the tension in the grocery business was the attempt by Overwaitea to introduce the PriceSmart model to Prince Rupert, which offered up a number of less than ideal working conditions to the mix, as we outlined on the blog back in 2006 and April of 2008.

The grocery business at times seems to be stepping back in time to the days of the 1930's where union/management battles seemed to be a blood sport, it's interesting to note that as our economies continue on through recessionary times, that some of the old models of labour negotiations of that depression era seem to be making a comeback.

The local debate has been introduced as a discussion topic on the local message board hackingthemainframe, offering up an interesting glimpse at some of the attitudes between employment, employers and what or what isn't the best course of action for the company or for someone in the kind of situation as the employees of Extra Foods find themselves in today.

Podunk Below the Masthead, Friday, November 27, 2009

Lineups continue for the H1N1 shot, the tributes pour in for an esteemed First Nations leader and the Museum receives a high profile donations, some of the items of note for the Friday news cycle.

Daily News, Front page, headline story
MUSEUM OF NORTHERN B.C. RECEIVES PRIVATE DONATION -- A wooden bowl from the Dundas Collection has been donated to the Museum of Northern B. C., provided by a private collection donor who wishes to remain anonymous.

The mad crush of people seeking H1N1 shots continued this week with the local clinic at the Northern Health Public Health Unit finding large crowds once again, as local residents tried to get their shot for the virus. The health unit is using a ticketing method which requires residents to pick up their ticket early in the morning in an attempt to get a spot in the day's line up for shots.

The frustration of a fixed publication schedule finds the Daily News outlining the prospects of a strike by CN Engineers, which we first outlined on Wednesday, an event that did actually come to pass later in the day on Friday (an item which we outlined on this portal on Saturday morning)

The intention of BC Ferries to commence with an investigation into the troubled attempted passage of the Northern Adventure last week was outlined in the Friday paper, it was a decision which we provided details of back on Wednesday, as well the BC Ferries investigation has now been joined one commenced by the Transportation Safety Board as we outlined in the blog on Saturday.

(Daily News Archive Articles links for November 27th )

The Northern View
No new items posted to their site for Friday

CFTK TV 7 News
Tributes Pour in for Leeson -- The passing of Nisga'a Lisims President Nelson Leeson has be observed by many across the province, with tributes arriving testifying to his dedication to his people and the work that he did (see article here)

CFTK TV 7 News
Cannery Upgrades "Project 1" complete -- A restoration project at the North Pacific Cannery has come to an end, leaving the historic site with new pilings, roofs and siding. (see article here)

CFTK TV 7 News
Austin Calls Impending Closure of Terrace Drug Treatment Facility Shortsighted -- the pending closure of a youth oriented drug treatment facility in Terrace is being debated in that city, with many of it supporters offering up the opinion that the move is a shortsighted one, a move which will leave Terrace without a key resource (see article here)

CBC Radio British Columbia, Daybreak North
No items for Friday were updated on the CBC Daybreak website

The Daily News, front page headline story
Museum of Northern B.C. receives private donation
By Monica Lamb-Yorski
The Daily News
Friday, November 27, 2009

A private collector from Vancouver, wanting to remain anonymous, has donated a wooden food bowl from the ‘Dundas Collection’ to the Museum of Northern B.C.

It brings the number of pieces from the collection now owned by the museum to four.

The same donor, previously donated funds that enabled the museum to purchase two bowls from the collection that have been in the museum since 2007.

Museum board member and Chilkat weaver William White said the gift is a welcomed acquisition.

“For me and museums in Canada it is great to know that there are ordinary Canadians that have a desire to preserve Tsimshian art and that he, the donor, feels that it should come back home to its origin.”

Up until 2006, the Dundas Collection had belonged to the descendents of Reverend Robert J. Dundas in England.

Reverend Dundas visited lay missionary William Duncan at the village of Metlakatla on B.C.’s North Coast in 1863 and acquired the pieces at that time.

In October 2006 the collection went up for auction and resulted in a record sale totaling $7 million U.S. – with the most items being purchased by Canadian buyers.

White described one group of buyers as, “ordinary people, although it must be said they were from families who had the necessary funds. They genuinely care about First Nations art remaining in its country of origin.”

When it came time to exhibit the collection the new owners indicated they wanted to develop a travelling exhibit and it was decided the first place it would be exhibited was at the Museum of Northern B.C.

Curator Susan Marsden worked with Tsimshian elders and heard from them that they wanted the name of the exhibit to reflect what the objects were.

“In other words, “The Dundas Collection” wasn’t going to satisfy them as the title for the exhibit. It became Nluut’iksa Lagigyedm Ts’msyeen”, meaning Treasures of the Tsimshian, and through discussions with other partners who felt it was important, the addendum “From the Dundas Collection” was added,” stated White in an afterword for the book, Tsimshian Treasures: The Remarkable Journey of the Dundas Collection.

White can still remember how the elders looked when they first saw the exhibit in Prince Rupert.

“Everybody was so reverent when they walked into the Monumental Gallery. I watched artists walk up to the cases. You could feel the energy exchanging with the pieces. The pride that came through - people were proud to be Tsimshian,” he recalled.

Picking up the new wooden bowl in one of the rooms in the museum, White said it is nice to have it home.

He explained that the bowl was adzed out of one solid piece of wood and carved. Running his fingers along the edge he drew attention to the “lovely lip” that prevents splashing.

“The carver allowed the wood to be part of the design,” White explained. “The lip is a totally classic Northwest Coast feature. It’s delicate and there is low-relief carving.”

At each end of the bowl there is an eagle face in a style that is distributive, meaning the artist intentionally filled the whole space with the design.

“There is also cross-hatching that speaks of balance. It’s so simple, yet expressive at the same time,” White added.

Clicking his fingernails on the side of the bowl, the sound that emerged indicated how light the wood actually is.

“I find it fascinating that the carver looked at a log and decided to make a bowl out of it,” White said.

The bowl is 11 and a 1/2 inches long, 4 and a 1/2 inches in depth and 10 inches wide.

It's the economy Weekend Edition (November 28/29)

The Gov't prepares a back to work order, the price of fame is deprecating and going for the gold, the real gold, some of the items of note from the weekend .

Globe and Mail-- Back-to-work law in the works for striking CN Rail engineers
Globe and Mail-- Dubai's 'big pyramid scheme' grounded by debt load
Globe and Mail-- TD Bank's U.S. real estate exposure higher than thought, report says
National Post-- CN rejects offer from striking engineers for partial arbitration
New York Times-- Dubai World Refused Distress - Asset Sale - Report
New York Times-- Bernanke Warns of Risks in Push to Revamp Fed
USA Today-- Unemployed U.S.-born workers seek day-labor jobs
USA Today-- Bears see market correction; bulls expect more rallying
Guardian UK online-- Carbon trading could be worth twice that of oil in next decade
Guardian UK online-- Megastars lose glitter for paparazzi
Times Online UK-- Alistair Darling to nurture ‘fragile’ recovery in pre-budget report
Times Online UK-- Banking’s fragility is exposed
Times Online UK-- Don't expect much blood from Alistair Darling's pre-budget report axe
Telegraph UK online-- Benign neglect may turn the dollar from a safe haven to a dangerous place to be
Telegraph UK online-- Dubai: an emerging market wake-up call
Telegraph UK online-- Gold acquires new investment aura
The Independent UK-- No one should feel sorry for the Dubai speculators
Melbourne Herald Sun-- Pressure mounting for Sheik
Sydney Daily Telegraph-- RBA likely to make history with rates rise
People's Daily on line-- China strives for faster retail growth
People's Daily on line-- China to keep macroeconomic policy stance in 2010 with flexibility
China Daily-- No change in fiscal, monetary policies
The Times of India-- Dubai storm: Realty IPOs to feel the heat
The Times of India-- BHEL not to go ahead with Singur project

Sunday, November 29, 2009

This is our game, so let more of us play it..

The 97th Grey Cup will take place later today in Calgary, the wrap up to a week long party and festival of all things Canadian, one of the more unifying events on the Canadian calendar and a day that turns casual fans into fanatics for the East, the West or just for football.

The two top teams in the league will meet for Lord Grey's cup, as they should, both Saskatchewan and Montreal full value for their divisional championships and both teams that showed very well how they got to the championship game with their divisional wins last week.

The Grey Cup is much more than a celebration of football though, it's a game unique to Canada, played on a larger field than that American brand, with a number of quirky rules that can cause American coaches to stay up late at night trying to figure things out.

Clearly Marc Trestman in Montreal and Saskatchewan's Ken Miller have figured it out and for the most part it comes by using their Canadian players to the best possible outcome, Saskatchewan's receiving corps for the most part is made of players that honed their skills on Canadian university fields and have stepped into the pros without missing a beat. Montreal likewise has made wise choices when it comes to their Canadian roster positions, featuring exciting offensive threats and dominating defensive players, all of whom contributed to their remarkable season this year.

For the most part you can separate the successful CFL teams from the struggling ones (hello there Toronto), simply by the way their coaching staff understands the Canadian game and makes the wisest choices when it comes to playing their Canadian players.

With University and high school football on the rise again across the nation the depth of Canadian talent has never looked better, so it's surprising to learn this past week of the quiet intercession into pending labour negotiations of the CFL management and their wish to reduce the number of Canadians in starting positions, if not on the rosters as a whole. The plan which has been universally panned so far, would see the current number of Canadians as starters at 7 reduced to five or even four.

It's a short sighted thought, one which should be dismissed as quickly as it was thought up.

The CFL is all about marketing the national spirit of the game, of providing the next logical step for University players and high school players before them to continue on with their football career.

One has to wonder just how many Firearms Acquisition Certificates are filed away with the federal government containing the names of CFL executives, as they seem to come regularly prepared to shoot themselves in the foot and there never seems to be a shortage of ammunition to use either it seems.

To try and float this bizarre trial balloon in the weeks before Grey Cup just goes to show that when it comes to making public mis-steps (and they had to know that this was going to leak out), the CFL perhaps has no parallel.

Sunday's Grey Cup should be an entertaining match up Grey Cups usually are, one worthy of Canada's attention and as the television ratings will no doubt testify towards, one that will capture our interest for most of the day.

The CFL is closing in on its 100th anniversary in three short years, it's a great game with a great history, it has to be, that in order to survive some of the unusual leadership decisions over its many decades.

The game celebrates Canadian football, and highlights the exciting brand of ball that we play above the 49th, a game unique to the nation but one which brings in talent from many countries where football is perhaps an unknown, but learned at the high school or university level in Canada. Once hooked, those players become perhaps its most passionate advocates.
There will always be a large number of Americans on the roster, some of our greatest stars have come up here for what they thought would be a few years, and instead turned into a full career with a life here after football. But rather than reducing or limiting the role of Canadians in the game, the league should be expanding it and enhancing the possibilities for Canadian youth to find a future in the game.

You do that and the game will grow, and with it the revenues and resonance with the public will grow as well, sometimes it seems like the simplest concepts are the hardest ones to get across.

Toronto Star-- Keep Canadians in CFL
Toronto Star-- CFL boss takes hit on numbers game
Victoria Times-Colonist-- Keeping the CFL Canada's league
Edmonton Journal-- Cohon's Canadian content controversy
Toronto Sun-- Boss sure can scramble
Globe and Mail-- As Canadian as can be
National Post-- Getzlaf leads the way for Canadians
Regina Leader Post--It would be crazy to limit the number of Canadian starters in CFL: Fantuz

Everybody, owes somebody, sometime...

The debtors of Dubai have been the main focus of the financial world over the last 72 hours or so, ever since that surprising announcement of Wednesday, that Dubai, perhaps one of the richest of nations in the world is having a case of the shorts.

The nation, which interestingly has little in the way of oil reserves, still is tied in with the oil money of the Middle East, serving as a financial centre and playground for the richest of the rich.

With luxury hotels, exotic man made islands with multi million dollar homes, regular visits by some of the worlds most recognized names and a lifestyle that Robin Leach would have found well worth a profile on his Lifestyles of the rich and famous show.

Dubai is probably the embodiment of excess, the poster for how the other half lives, perhaps the last place on earth one might think that financial problems would be a concern, but then again, considering the spectacular nature of all that wealth and how it is spent maybe it's not surprising that it may be ground zero for the next set of tumbling dominoes on the world financial scene.

By fortuitous timing, the announcement of Dubai's request of a six month holiday from debt repayment, for Dubai World's property unit Nakheel which was seeking a break on a $US3.5 billion bond that Nakheel was due to repay on December 14, came as the American Thanksgiving weekend was about to start. With the stock markets in America working on short schedules, the panic that seemed to grip the rest of the world's indexes on Thursday never made it to New York.

London, Asia and Europe all took hits on Thursday and Friday as nervous investors pulled some of their money out of play, especially any money that had been allocated for banking institutions who may be getting nervous about Dubai's inability to service it's huge debt load.

A lot of Dubai World's investment troubles involved real estate and the quick collapse of that sector in the last year's financial turmoil, the building cranes never seemed to stop in the Middle East city/state, providing a magnificent skyline, but fewer and fewer tenants it seems.
Money and its movement is the key industry of Dubai, where Dubai World has amassed 59 billion dollars on liabilities, on a total debt of 80 million.

The worry around the world is that Dubai's financial troubles may resonate around the world, setting up a contagion much like that which the world faced only a year ago with the financial implosion.

Many fear that the still on the cusp of recovering financial world, won't be able to withstand the stresses of another collapse, or of the sudden rush to liquidate commercial assets around the world.

By late Friday that early panic had seemed to have levelled off, some commentators advising that it wasn't going to be as large a concern as previously thought, others however fear that the other shoe may be about to drop. For the most part, many feel that some of Dubai's oil rich neighbours in the gulf will put together some form of rescue package, but not before they make officials in Dubai sweat things out a little bit.

Monday, when the New York stock exchange opens for its first full post Thanksgiving weekend session may be the next indicator as to how the world is about to react to the debtors of Dubai, and if that luxurious lifestyle featured at the top of this piece, is going to have much more of a shelf life!

Some of the International media coverage and analysis of the angst over any potential default of Dubai, offering up an opinion and interpretation for every corner of the financial system ...

November 29

Guardian UK-- Furious investors warn troubled Dubai it will 'never raise a penny again'
Guardian UK-- Recession and debt dissolve Dubai's mirage in the desert
Times on line-- Abu Dhabi rides in to rescue Dubai from debt crisis
Times on line-- How Dubai's dream sank in a sea of debt
Times on line-- Dubai owes British builders £250m amid debt crisis
Telegraph UK-- Abu Dhabi will not race to Dubai's rescue
Telegraph UK-- Dubai: an emirate in crisis
Telegraph UK-- Dubai: an emerging market wake-up call
The Independent-- Dubai Babylon: The glitz, the glamour – and now the gloom
New York Times-- Dubai World Refused Distress - Asset Sale - Report

November 28

The Guardian UK-- Dubai: Who says the bubble's burst?
The Independent-- Brown seeks to ease Dubai debt worries

November 27

Globe and Mail-- Dubai's debt a wild card
National Post-- Flaherty sees little impact in Canada over Dubai
USA Today-- Stocks slide on concerns about Dubai debt fallout
New York Times-- Dubai Debt Woes Raise Fear of Wider Problem
Guardian UK-- British banks quizzed by regulators on exposure to Dubai crisis
Guardian UK-- Sober ruler of Dubai whose vision is crumbling in the face of the storm
Times on line UK-- Dubai in deep water as ripples from debt crisis spread
Times on line UK-- West fears fire sale of Dubai assets that will spread across world
Telegraph UK-- Dubai is just a harbinger of things to come for sovereign debt
Telegraph UK-- Why we must consider Dubai's 'careful planning' a work of pure genius
Telegraph UK-- Dubai in crisis: the questions and answers
The Independent-- Dubai crisis will prompt investors to look critically at sovereign debt
Sydney Daily Telegraph-- Dubai debt decision 'serious misjudgement'
China Daily-- No holding of Dubai World bonds
Times of India-- Indian banks say Dubai crisis unlikely to affect them
November 26

Globe and Mail-- Dubai struggles to ease default fears
National Post-- Concern focused on Dubai World
New York Times-- Dubai Debt Delays Revive Fear Of Financial Crisis
Guardian UK-- Fears of double-dip recession grow as Dubai crashes
Times on line UK-- Footballers and film stars caught out as Dubai crash hits new low
The Telegraph UK-- Dubai default fears rock markets
Brisbane Times-- Dubai Government to seek repayment extension

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Three million dollars in infrastructure projects planned for the Prince Rupert Port Authority

Some of that much discussed Federal infrastructure money is about to wash onshore at the Port of Prince Rupert, as the federal government along with the Port announced the funding for three infrastructure projects at port facilities in the city.

John Weston, the Member of Parliament for West Vancouver-Sunshine Coast-Sea to Sky Country, and Don Krusel, President & CEO of the Prince Rupert Port Authority, announced funding of over three million dollars, which will see repairs and seismic upgrading take place at the Atlin Terminal, coming in at a cost of around 2 million dollars, 1 million of which will come from the Federal infrastructure program.

500,000 dollars has been earmarked for a project to construct a one-kilometre pipeline to connect into the District of Port Edward water supply, providing a secure water supply for port operations at Ridley Island, 250,000 of that 500,000 comes out of the infrastructure program.

The final handover of monies is destined for work on the culverts of Ridley Island, at a cost of 500,000 dollars, half of which comes from the infrastructure program, replacement will take place along the 340 metres of eroding culverts which are in place on the Ridley Island Causeway.
The complete set of details on the influx of federal money for the port which is part of the Economic Action plan of the Conservative government was delivered in a press release issued on Saturday.

Transportation Safety Board launches its own investigation into Northern Adventure sailing

"The decision to launch an inquiry was made because the vessel got caught in bad weather, because there was damage, and because of the media coverage" -- Raymond Mathew, a senior marine investigator with the Canadian Transportation Safety Board, outlining the reasons behind their decision to hold an investigation into the Northern Adventure sailing of last weekend.

While BC Ferries conducts its own internal review of the events of last Sunday night/Monday morning, the Transportation Safety Board will begin its own investigation into the aborted sailing after encountering near hurricane winds in Hecate Strait. (see Podunk November 23)

The Transportation Safety Board intends to interview the captain of the Northern Adventure on that fateful evening, their hope by way of the interview is to learn if the proper protocols were in place during the course of the sailing.

At the main thrust of the investigation it seems will be the weather forecast for that night and its call for winds of 40 to 60 knots and seas of at least five metres, BC Ferries protocol calls for a delay or cancellation of a sailing when the forecasted seas are to be 3.6 metres or more.

As was reviewed on CFTK News earlier this week the sailing was a rather worrisome event for the passengers aboard the vessel, concerned about the judgment call on that evening.

Other passenger concerns from the trip revolve around a lack of communication between Ferry staff and the passengers and the Ferry Service and its passengers/customers, an issue that BC Ferries spokesperson Deborah Marshall commented on.
According to Marshall there was communication during the course of the incident, though she did add that there could be lessons to be learned from the events of the night, all part of the Ferry Corporations investigation.
Now, with the announcement of the Transportation Board's plans, there will two reports to read over about the events of November 22 and 23.
CTV News-- Two investigations launched into wild B.C. ferry ride
Opinion 250-- Northern Adventure Rough Sailing Under Scrutiny

CN Talks go off the rails, railroad anticipates strike action

Last minute talks designed to head off a potential labour dispute at CN have ended with no progress reported and CN Rail preparing to implement its "labour contingency plan", should unionized members of the Teamsters Canada Rail Conference act on their 72 hour strike notice.
As we outlined on the blog earlier this week, the latest labour discussions came about after CN walked away from ongoing negotiations after they felt no progress was being made, unilaterally invoking their own contract, the terms of which the TCRC was not willing to accept. After a 72 strike notice was issued by the union, one final session of negotiations was arranged but came to an end on Friday without a resolution.
The TCRC were in a legal position to strike as of midnight Friday, and should they step away from their locomotives CN intends to operate with what they describe as qualified management personnel to work as locomotive engineers.

CN outlined the latest developments in a press release issued as the deadline passed, though no official confirmation of job action has yet been received, nor has any strike mobilization been outlined on the Teamsters website.

An extended strike could have wide ranging effects on the economy of Western Canada, from grain shipments on the prairies, through to container car passages to the American Midwest. As well, an impact would be felt at the Pacific ports of Vancouver and Prince Rupert which could see traffic diverted as shipping lines and customers seek other outlets for their transportation requirements.
For local workers at Fairview Terminals and Ridley Island, the prospect of a lengthy labour disruption on the railroad could see a reduction in their workloads as shipments slow or stop completely.

Friday, November 27, 2009

It's the economy (November 27, 2009)

A Dubain debacle, bargains worth a fist fight over, and hiding the news over a holiday doesn't work anymore, some of the items of note for Friday.

Globe and Mail-- A world awash in debt
Globe and Mail-- Dubai's debt a wild card
Globe and Mail-- GM Canada dealers sue to stay open
National Post-- Flaherty sees little impact in Canada over Dubai
National Post-- Rates can stay low through 2015: David Dodge
National Post-- Rail strike would hurt Canada farmers, exporters
New York Times-- Taxing the Speculators
New York Times-- Dubai Crisis Jolts Markets, but Early Fears Ease
USA Today-- Stocks slide on concerns about Dubai debt fallout
USA Today-- Scuffling customers close California Wal-Mart on Black Friday
Guardian UK online-- British banks quizzed by regulators on exposure to Dubai crisis
Guardian UK online-- Sober ruler of Dubai whose vision is crumbling in the face of the storm
Times Online UK-- Dubai in deep water as ripples from debt crisis spread
Times Online UK-- West fears fire sale of Dubai assets that will spread across world
Times Online UK-- Dubai finds Eid not such a good day to bury bad news about Nakheel
Telegraph UK online-- Dubai is just a harbinger of things to come for sovereign debt
Telegraph UK online-- Why we must consider Dubai's 'careful planning' a work of pure genius
Telegraph UK online-- Dubai in crisis: the questions and answers
The Independent UK-- Dubai crisis will prompt investors to look critically at sovereign debt
Melbourne Herald Sun-- Dubai concerns weigh on Australian share market
Melbourne Herald Sun-- Commonwealth Bank won't comment on Dubai exposure
Melbourne Herald Sun-- Chinese growth to continue, says BHP Billiton
Melbourne Heradld Sun-- The who, what and where of Dubai
Brisbane Times-- Dubai debt doubts spook markets
Brisbane Times-- Hungry China to take its Indophil
Brisbane Times-- Roundtable: It’s not over till it’s over
Sydney Daily Telegraph-- Dubai debt decision 'serious misjudgement': FT
Sydney Daily Telegraph-- Jobs market tough for returning expats
People's Daily on line-- Cheng Siwei: China's monetary policy should not be "too loose" in 2010
People's Daily on line-- Resource tax hike likely
China Daily-- China: No holding of Dubai World bonds
China Daily-- Beijing has 'more room' for cars
The Times of India-- Indian banks say Dubai crisis unlikely to affect them
The Times of India-- No impact of Dubai crisis on Indian realty market: Developers

Muppetizing the Oldies

They don't get as much exposure as they once did, but for those that think the Muppets are a novelty of the past, think again.

Muppets Studios has resurrected the old Queen classic Bohemian Rhapsody and given it that Muppet touch, an ensemble approach to the song that Freddie Mercury and the lads once made famous.

Be sure to stick around long enough for the Miss Piggy solo, it's Divalistic...

Podunk Below the Masthead, Thursday, November 26, 2009

A new Deputy Fire Chief takes up his duties, community groups may have to get by with less in 2010 and a Nisga'a leader passes away, some of the items of note for Thursday.

The Daily News, Front page, headline story
NEW DEPUTY FIRECHIEF MAKES THE ROUNDS--We follow the recently promoted Jeff Beckwith around a Pineridge classroom, as the Daily News profiles the new Deputy chief of the Prince Rupert Fire Rescue Department.

Local organizations might have to make do with less next year, that as Prince Rupert City council outlines how the current financial picture for the city could result in grant reductions of up to 25 per cent for those community organizations that receive them.

While Prince Rupert and the Skeena Queen Charlotte Regional district keep busy writing letters to the Prime Minister calling for a comprehensive review of the Enbridge Gateway project, their efforts may not be greeted with universal appreciation in Kitimat and Terrace. The different thoughts on the need for a full and complete inquiry are examined with a page three story.

The Sports section featured coverage of the lighting of the BC Northern Winter Games torch this week as well as the weekly review of action in the Prince Rupert Minor Basketball Association.

(Daily News Archive Articles links for November 26th )

The Northern View
Port Edward votes to study options to keep its school open -- With School District 52 moving on its agenda of school consolidation and potential closures, Port Edward is preparing its case to keep its school a going concern (see article here)

Nisga'a President Passes Away -- The Nisga'a nation is in mourning today, as a long time fixture on the political scene, President Nelson Leeson passed away on Thursday in a Prince George Hospital. (see article here)

Billet Families Needed as 2010 Northern Winter Games Approach -- The push is on to secure billet families for competitors in the Northern Winter Games, with only 12 of the 400 billets required secured so far, the organizing committee is looking impress on the community of the need to register now (see article here)

CBC Radio British Columbia, Daybreak North
Olympic benefits to the north -- John Furlong CEO of the organizing committee for the 2010 Olympic games outlines what he believes will be the benefits for the north in February's event (listen to the interview here)

Daily News, Front page, headline story
New Deputy Firechief makes the rounds
By Monica Lamb-Yorski
The Daily News
Thursday, November 26, 2009

On Nov. 10 Jeff Beckwith became Prince Rupert’s new Deputy Fire Chief.

Beckwith has been with the Prince Rupert Fire Rescue department for ten years and said he loves his new job.

“I don’t think you could have a better job,” he said this week. “I started my career with the Prince Rupert Fire Rescue Department in the summer of 1999 as a relief firefighter, where I worked as a casual employee filling in for holiday and sick leave for the permanent staff,” Beckwith said Tuesday.

At that time, he knew there would be a full time position becoming available the following summer because one of the captains was retiring, and the opportunity inspired Beckwith to attend the Alberta Fire Training School, now called Fire Etc.

He completed the NFPA 1001 Standard for Professional Firefighters in the spring of 2000, and was hired as a full time firefighter in August 2000.

Five years ago, Beckwith approached then Fire Chief Ron Miller, and said he was interested in enrolling in the four-year Bachelor of Applied Business: Emergency Services Degree Program offered through Lakeland College, also in Alberta, for firefighters, paramedics, police and military personnel.

“This course was a challenging 4 years long, but I knew that once completed, it would give me an opportunity to apply for the Deputy Chief’s position when it became vacant this past summer,” Beckwith said.

On Tuesday Beckwith, along with fellow firefighters Cpt. Calvin Thompson, Troy Leighton and Remo Pomponio visited Mavis Glencross’s grade three/four class at Pineridge Elementary.

The students had created a character made of paper called ‘Flat Stanley’ that they had dropped off at the Fire Hall on Nov. 19 to accompany the firefighters on their daily routine.

Tuesday’s visit was about returning Flat Stanley, but it was also an opportunity to show the students the fire department’s Thermal Imaging Camera, an instrument used to locate people in a burning building when the smoke is too thick to see.

“In Kindergarten the students start out with us and by the time they are [in] Grades three and four, they have seen everything we do, so we thought we’d bring in the TIC. It’s something the older kids would appreciate,” Beckwith explained.

Fate of the HST could rest with the Federal Liberals

Gordon Campbell's wishes to see the HST implemented in British Columbia could stand or fall on the whims of Michael Ignatieff and the Federal Liberal party and with it much of his financial planning of the last six months .

The Federal Conservative government is about to turn the heat up on the opposition in Ottawa next week, that's when the Harper government introduces its framework legislation to introduce the controversial tax in both Ontario and British Columbia.

While it will not be a vote of confidence on which the government itself can fall, (at least according to the Conservatives and their interpretation of the Parliamentary regulations), it will provide a dilemma for Ignatieff and his fellow Liberals in the nations capital.

While the HST is unpopular with many residents of both BC and Ontario, it has been the chosen financial instrument of Liberal governments in those two provinces, governments that may not appreciate their Federal relations interfering with their economic planning.

For Ignatieff the vote will also finally leave him with a decision to make, he's been rather cute with his declarations of the HST standing for the Harper Sales Tax, while at the same time explaining that if it were in place should he become Prime Minister he would not repeal it. The forced vote will clearly mean he has to outline his stand and be clear about it, then either support that position or come across as waffling on what are supposed to be his key issues.

While he has been scoring political points of late, what with his changing thoughts on the tax and his quick quips on the topic, but his position seems to sound like a familiar Liberal way of thinking it seems. Almost a copy of the old GST debate of decades ago, the one where the Liberals were up in arms over its introduction, but made a tidy little profit from it once in government.

In fact it wasn't all that long ago that Federal Liberals were bouncing around the idea that the HST was a much desired financial lever to create jobs, a talking point that doesn't seem to be discussed as much anymore while in opposition.

The Conservatives perhaps having learned from those history books after all, are going to put the Liberal leader on the spot, with their declaration that “If the framework legislation is rejected before Christmas, we will not revisit the issue. Not next year. Not after the next election.”

In short, they're telling the provinces of Ontario and BC that if they want this tax as they have indicated they do, then the time is here to put some political pressure on the Federal party.

If Ignatieff takes the bait and fights against the tax, he may win a few salutations from the folks that would be paying the new HST, but one wonders if that in the end would translate into votes.
More importantly for a party with some financial shortages to worry about in this pre election time run up, is the realization that if he undercuts his provincial premiers, then just how hard would those provincial political machines would work for him once the eventual election to come arrives.

Both Gordon Campbell and Dalton McGuinty no doubt will be burning up the phone lines to Ignatieff's office over the next week, they've spent far too much time and suffered much fallout from their plans so far, to have it all blow up because the Federal leader wasn't on message are the thing that grand political feuds are made of.
It's politics at its hardball best in Ottawa and Stephen Harper has just delivered the fastball high and under the chin of the Liberal leader.

Globe and Mail-- Tories will challenge Ignatieff with HST ultimatum
CTV News -- Federal Tories put Liberals on hot seat over HST
National Post-- Can HST flip-flop boost the Liberals?
Toronto Sun-- NDP to Iggy: Force an election over HST

Thursday, November 26, 2009

It's the economy (November 26, 2009)

The debtors of Dubai, ,Turkey Day becomes shopping Day in the US, forget the flu shot in China they're getting flu insurance, some of the items of note for Thursday.

Globe and Mail-- Dubai struggles to ease default fears
Globe and Mail-- Cheap money sparks bubble warnings
Globe and Mail-- Bombardier cuts jobs as orders drop
National Post-- Concern focused on Dubai World
National Post-- Consumers, accountants split on economy
National Post-- New tour company could transform Jazz
New York Times-- Dubai Debt Delays Revive Fear Of Financial Crisis
USA Today-- To get a jump on Black Friday, stores open on Thanksgiving
Guardian UK online-- Fears of double-dip recession grow as Dubai crashes
Guardian UK online-- Campaigners blast Walker report on banks
Times Online UK-- Japanese Prime Minister warns of double-dip slump
Times Online UK-- Anguish over the recession that refuses to let go
Telegraph UK online-- Dubai default fears rock markets
Telegraph UK online-- China, gold, and the civilization shift
Telegraph UK online-- Brown risks US wrath by pushing global financial tax
Melbourne Herald Sun-- How to drag money out of dumb people
Melbourne Herald Sun-- Frugal shoppers a concern for Woolworths
Melbourne Herald Sun-- Saab at point of no return
Brisbane Times-- Dubai Government to seek repayment extension
Brisbane Times-- Banking regulatory body tightens screws
Brisbane Times-- Clouds get blacker for manufacturers
Sydney Daily Telegraph-- Business spending down in quarter
People's Daily on line-- Poor irrigation may cost 18 billion yuan by 2030
People's Daily on line-- Senior Chinese official urges for proper use of stimulus funds
China Daily-- China tells enterprises to be prepared for upcoming FTA
China Daily-- Young white-collar Chinese take out insurance against flu
The Times of India-- Food inflation rises to 15.58%
The Times of India-- India, Bangladesh to ink power exchange deal

City council scoresheet for November 23, 2009

The Wednesday, November 25 edition of the Daily News featured their regular scorecard on city council issues, this one featuring the deliberations and votes from selected items of the November 23 session.
This weeks feature appeared on page three of the Wednesday edition, only Councillor Bedard was absent from council chambers.

Question One: That council adopt the 2009 ameded Five Year Financial Plan Bylaw No. 3288.
How council voted:

Mayor Jack Mussallem-- Yes
Councillor Anna Ashley-- Yes
Councillor Nelson Kinney-- Yes
Councillor Gina Garon-- Yes
Councillor Sheila Gordon-Payne Yes
Councillor Joy Thorkelson-- Yes
Councillor Kathy Bedard-- Absent

Question Two: That Council will send a letter of support for a request that came out of the community to community forum last week, asking that the Enbridge process for public input become a comprehensive review.

How council voted:

Mayor Jack Mussallem-- Yes
Councillor Anna Ashley-- Yes
Councillor Nelson Kinney-- Yes
Councillor Gina Garon-- Yes
Councillor Sheila Gordon-Payne-- Yes
Councillor Joy Thorkelson-- Yes
Councillor Kathy Bedard-- Absent

Question Three: In referne to the Community enhancement Grants: That No new applications will be considered for 2010.

How council voted:

Mayor Jack Mussallem-- Yes
Councillor Anna Ashley-- Yes
Councillor Nelson Kinney-- Yes
Councillor Gina Garon-- Yes
Councillor Sheila Gordon-Payne-- Yes
Councillor Joy Thorkelson-- Yes
Councillor Kathy Bedard-- Absent

Question Four: All Existing grant recipients will be advised by letter that they could receive at least 25 percent less of their existing grant in 2010.

How council voted:

Mayor Jack Mussallem-- Yes
Councillor Anna Ashley-- Yes
Councillor Nelson Kinney-- Yes
Councillor Gina Garon-- Yes
Councillor Sheila Gordon-Payne-- Yes
Councillor Joy Thorkelson-- Yes
Councillor Kathy Bedard-- Absent

Question Five: Council will send a letter to the provincial government protesting the downloading of costs to municipalities caused by cuts, particularly to public libraries and organizations that receive gaming funds.

How council voted:

Mayor Jack Mussallem-- Yes
Councillor Anna Ashley-- Yes
Councillor Nelson Kinney-- Yes
Councillor Gina Garon-- Yes
Councillor Sheila Gordon-Payne-- Yes
Councillor Joy Thorkelson-- Yes
Councillor Kathy Bedard-- Absent

Question Six: Council approve the acting mayor schedule for 2010: Jan. - Kinney, Feb and March - Thorkelson, April and May - Gordon Payne, June and July - Bedard, Aug and Sept - Ashley, Oct and Nov. - Garon and Dec. - Kinney

How council voted:

Mayor Jack Mussallem-- Yes
Councillor Anna Ashley-- Yes
Councillor Nelson Kinney-- Yes
Councillor Gina Garon-- Yes
Councillor Sheila Gordon-Payne-- Yes
Councillor Joy Thorkelson-- Yes
Councillor Kathy Bedard-- Absent

City Hall Tracker, November 23, 2009

The ongoing cost of maintaining a pulp mill site, set the tone for Monday's meeting as council contemplated their financials in the wake of the estimated monthly cost of 100,000 dollars to keep the moving parts moving at Watson Island. Beyond that, council took care of some housekeeping setting their schedule for 2010, delegating the Acting mayor duties for the year to come and announcing that funding cuts to local organizations could come next year.

Not all of council's business was conducted in open forum, as yet another Closed session of council was required as per section 90 of the Community charter, a section that seems to have received a fair amount of reading by council this year.

November 23, 2009

Regular council meeting Agenda for November 23 , 2009

Committee of the Whole meeting Agenda for November 23, 2009

Notice of Special Council meeting

City council session for November 23, 2009

In attendance:

Mayor Jack Mussallem
Councillor Anna Ashley
Councillor Sheila Gordon-Payne
Councillor Nelson Kinney
Councillor Gina Garon
Councillor Joy Thorkelson


Councillor Kathy Bedard

Regular City council minutes for November 23, 2009
(none posted yet)

Daily News voting summary
Wednesday, November 25, 2009 edition

Attendance at City Hall to date archives

Upcoming events-- City council meeting Monday, December 14, 2009